When we went to Dallas bring my son for a basketball tournament in April, we stopped by a Vietnamese place for lunch. They had one of the best Vietnamese beef noodle soups we've had in a long time. There is just something about the combination of cinnamon, 5 star anise, nutmeg, Asian basil and ginger that is so... comforting. Hubby always orders this soup at EVERY Vietnamese restaurant so I tried making it at home. This recipe is loosely adapted from a Food Network recipe. I added nutmeg, scallions and Asian basil and instead of searing the beef, I placed paper-thin, raw beef in soup bowls and allowed it cook gently by adding the super hot broth. The beef is very tender and flavorful this way. I use a Rival deli slicer at home to make paper-thin cuts of sirloin but if you just freeze the beef for about 20-30 minutes, you can use a regular Santoku knife to get thin slices. For the broth, it is important to use the best beef stock you can find.
In celebration of the exquisite flavors and spices in Vietnamese cuisine, this is my contribution to Delicious Vietnam created by A Food Lovers Journey and Ravenous Couple.
Vietnamese Beef Soup (Pho Bo)
1 onion, halved
4" piece ginger, halved
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise pods
1 whole nutmeg
12 oz, paper thin slices of sirloin
8 oz. rice noodles (or Japanese odon noodles if rice noodles are not available)
1/2 cup cilantro
2-4 Tbsp fish sauce
Kosher salt and pepper
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
sprigs of Asian basil (bung que or rau que) but may be substituted with purple basil when these are not available)
1 lime, cut into quarters
Place broth in a large pot over high heat and add onion, ginger, cinnamon, 5 star anise and nutmeg. Pour in the beef stock and let the broth simmer for 25 minutes. Add fish sauce and boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile place rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts in 4 soup bowls. Remove the ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon stick from the broth and discard. Take the onion and slice it thinly and place in the soup bowl. Pour the piping hot broth into the bowls to cook the beef. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and some lime juice.